Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Analysis: Meh

This forum did not lend itself to serious candidates truly distinguishing themselves. As much as people are frustrated by talking points, it is kind of hard to do anything but stick to sound bites when you only have fifteen seconds to outline how you're going to reduce crime. That said, before I watch the rebroadcast this debate to see how it came across on television, I want to share my thoughts on how the candidates fared.

First of all, considering what he had to do, I thought Norman Robinson pulled off one of the slickest, smoothest debates I've ever seen. He was charming and he kept it moving. Big props.

Manny Bruno was hilarious. He should do this every year until he is dead or finally elected Mayor. Jonah Bascle did a great job with his opening statement. I think he should file a lawsuit if they don't do the obvious and switch a few of the red, handicap-accessible streetcars onto the St. Charles line.

Marijuana was also a big winner tonight. Very nice to have two people bring it up, even if it wasn't any of the "real" candidates. I was surprised that no candidate spun off of the laugh lines to make a serious point about how decriminalization of marijuana possession is a big part of real community policing policy, how simple pot arrests suck resources out of our criminal justice system, or to commend DA Cannizzaro for his progressive views on this issue. That would have been a big move for someone with direct knowledge about this like Judge Nadine Ramsey. She whiffed though. I don't know why candidates are still too scared to talk about this like grownups.

The Good:

As for the major contenders, I think that if there was a winner, it was Troy Henry.

His delivery was strong and direct and he didn't repeat himself as much as other candidates. In a forum like this, I think that you have to be unafraid to say I and me. You have to be loud and in charge. Henry did this well. I think he raised a lot of eyebrows.

James Perry also did a pretty good job. Similarly, he was not afraid to be loud and direct. He spoke firmly. He needs do more to emphasize his work as a civil rights attorney fighting housing discrimination and less to emphasize that one time he was a lifeguard for NORD.

The Bad:

Ed Murray needs to get his money back from whoever has been coaching him. You might be able to get away with mumbling one-on-one to a constituent but you can't mumble during a debate. During one answer, he started to say something about the Beacon of Hope but then just trailed off. It was weird.

On more than one occasion, Mitch Landrieu repeated lines verbatim from the youtube announcement of his candidacy released last week. I would have expected something a little better from someone with actual charisma. It came off as phony.

John Georges also had a mumbling problem and had trouble thoroughly answering questions without straying onto other topics or talking points.

The Boring:

Leslie Jacobs, Nadine Ramsey, and Rob Couhig were largely forgettable.

If I were Ramsey, I'd have rather been bad than forgettable.

Leslie Jacobs was really timid and uninspiring. Since Mitch Landrieu jumped in the race, she has had to work hard just to convince people she is still interested in the office. She should have used this opportunity to show that to people. She needed to be louder, more confident, even fiery. She seemed nervous and reticent.

Rob Couhig is just not someone I'm interested in. People told me he was going to make fireworks or something but he was stiff and I didn't pay attention to him.

Stay tuned. I will update this post with additional thoughts once I've watched video.

UPDATE: After watching pieces of the debate on television, I don't think I have much to add. Nadine Ramsey looked even more uncomfortable than she sounded.


New Orleans Tech.Net said...

Hopefully as the race heats up, these candidates will tighten up. But your right, some have a long way to go. I think the people in New Orleans are able to look past what you say now to find out what you are really about.

Anonymous said...

Couhig didn't like Bruno at all. In fact he seemed down right upset that Bruno performed better than him with the audience.

Superdeformed said...

So far the guy in the Wheelchair has my vote, even if he is a one trick pony.

mominem said...

Mitch Landrieu was the big loser. As presumptive front runner he looked ordinary. He didn't show the stature that he should have.

But cattle calls are always had an leaders.

Shercole said...

I agree with you Troy Henry was a leader in this debate. Nadine Ramsey could have done better especially on points she actually has experience on. John Georges I have no clue what he was trying to do tonight!

Anonymous said...

Good analysis, WCBF!

I thought Perry did the best. . . he came across as thoughtful, serious and mature, nothing like the expletive laced ad he put out a few weeks back. And I thought his observation on the other candidates ignorace on the Youth Study Center was almost as good as all of the candidates getting stumped on the 2 simple questions on city finances.

Henry was smooth and slick, but what would one expect from a veteran of Enron. . . and he did sound very much like Nagin did 8 years ago. Henry is probably Nagin's candidate, but if Henry is smart, he'll keep that under wraps, just like he's doing his best to hide his ties to Enron. And suggesting that Henry's work on Pontchartrain Park was some kind of charitable thing is plain wrong -- he charged them a huge developer fee.

Landrieu seemed like a rerun - of his unsuccessful campaign against Nagin four years ago. Nice smile, smooth talk, but after telling us he knew what to do and how to do it, he didn't say much about what he would do.

Murray was terrible. He looked shifty and mumbled his way through almost every response. He certainly didn't inspire a soul.

Bruno was hilarious, and I enjoyed him along with Jerry Jacobs and Jonah Bashel. . . but at the end of the day they were mostly a distraction, except for maybe Bashel's sincere advocacy for access for the disabled, and everyone else. . . nice how he brought everyone in on that.

The fact that all of the candidates were stumped on the basic questions on city finances should disqualify them - it would in a job interview - but I guess the takeaway is that we can't depend on the next mayor alone to save us - no one in this crowd has showed us they have the chops to be a dynamic leader and consensus builder. . . though Perry seems to reach closest to that.

Frolic said...

I didn't watch the debate. It just sounded too painful. Glad others were willing to take one for the team.

So is there anything to Mitch? I haven't followed him as long as others folks have, but his performance in the last election was weak. His bio is incredibly thin (two years out of law school he inherits a seat).

Did he accomplish anything in the legislature? While he appears to have done a good job promoting tourism in his current job, those aren't quite the skills needed to run the city.

Anonymous said...

I didn't think James Perry is actually an attorney... that's why he says he's a "non-profit executive.'

But otherwise, I think this is a good summary.

E said...

He is an attorney. I think he's calling himself a non-profit executive to make people think that he has executive experience.

Ricardo said...

NOLA.com just posted that there is only one Jacobs left in the race. Leslie Jacobs just withdrew her candidacy.